5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads
Like any large scale fantasy novel, Falling Kingdoms has its fair share of characters, families and feuds. Although compared to a series such as A Song of Ice and Fire it’s only a handful of characters, I was very grateful for the character list at the beginning of the book. Despite some initial confusion with the characters, the world which Morgan Rhodes has created drew me in pretty quickly. It’s not a particularly original fantasy world – several kingdoms and warring peoples, magic, royal families – but it was definitely one that worked well and kept me reading.
The story follows members of three different families: Cleo, whose fiancee caused the strife; Jonas, whose brother was murdered, beginning the uneasy relations between the three kingdoms; Lucia and Magnus, siblings with a dark background. Generally, I really liked all of the point-of-view characters – there was a real mix of personalities and goals, and it never really felt like one character was ‘better’ than the other. There were no real good or bad characters when it came to the POV characters: they all had their own reasons for doing what they were doing. The dynamic of Lucia and Magnus’ relationship reminded me of that of Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia, as portrayed in the TV series The Borgias. Slowly, the stories of each family begin to intertwine, bringing around the conclusion and opening up the story for the second book.
Morgan Rhodes is not afraid of writing in shocking moments and sudden deaths (like another certain fantasy writer I can think of…), and this one was of the qualities that made the book stand out. The author is not afraid to shock, or potentially upset the reader – there is no pandering down to keep the reader happy.
My main complaint about the book was one of the romances felt really lacklustre, a bit too Romeo and Juliet, teenage angsty. I also feel like I could predict the next romance, so I hope I’m wrong! I also have no idea who is supposed to be on the cover, as there certainly weren’t any assassin type characters for the majority of the book.
The cover of the version I read claimed that the book was ‘A Game of Thrones for young adults’. I really hate comparisons like this – it makes it seem that all books coming out these days are practically rip-offs of other series, when what we really want is originally. I get the comparison here in as far as it is a political fantasy (although nowhere near as in-depth as A Song of Ice and Fire, plus there are the shifting point-of-views and a higher than average body count… but really, it’s a very different story and probably just a decision on the behalf of the publishers, trying to sell more copies by comparing it to the ‘next big thing’. Overall, I really loved the book. It pulled me in straight away and I rushed through the story, eager for each new chapter and event – and I will definitely be reading the rest of the series.